Discuss the theory of dependent origination.

The theory of dependent origination is given by Buddha. According to this doctrine, “this arising that arises; this ceasing that ceases to be.” The doctrine of universal change and impermanence follows from this fundamental teaching of Buddhism, viz., Pratitya Samutpada.

Change can be understood in terms of conditional existence. This law of causation is the basis of continuity. Both the elements of the material world and of the mental world are subjected to laws of physical and moral causation. This law insists on the necessity of sufficient conditions.

Buddha neither believed in ‘Being nor non-Being’; but only in ‘Becoming’. Thus he gave a dynamic explanation of the real. The symbols generally used to illustrate this conception are the stream of water and the self-consuming flame. Just as the flame and the stream of water, both the metal and the physical reality are subjected to constant flux. When we view the aggregate, be it the self or the material object in time, we notice that they are not the same even for two moments. So the self and the material world are each a flux (samtana). Just as the flame and the stream of water, everything is only a series (vithi) – a succession of similar things or happenings.

The notion of fixity we have of them is wholly fictitious. There were two views current during the time when Buddha philosophized – one believing in Being and the other in non-Being. Buddha opposed both these views when he propounded his view of reality as dynamic. Thus, according to Buddhism, neither Being nor non-Being is the truth; the truth is that everything is ‘Becoming’.

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